Chronic TMJ Pain

Dentist Office in Raytown and Pleasant Hill, Missouri

            Many experts agree the leading cause of chronic headaches and jaw pain is a disorder within the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).  You are enjoying your dinner with your family, when your child points out he heard your jaw pop.  Clearly you felt it, it was painful, but as a parent you try to remain tough and act like it was no big deal. With time, you talk less, eat less and rarely enjoy meals because of the pain brought about by moving your jaw. It should come as some relief that over 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorders, and nearly all of them are treatable with conservative treatment. Usually a simply oral appliance can reposition your jaw and its movements providing instant relief from the excruciating pain.

            Does your face, ears, head or teeth hurt in the morning? Do you ever get popping, clicking or locking in your jaw? If the answer is yes, you need to seek treatment for this disorder immediately, because it will get worse over time. The temporomandibular joint which allows movement of your jaw is a complicated beast, and this mechanism is easily disrupted with quite undesirable consequences. When we have another joint problem, a medical doctor would usually advise a brace to reduce stress on the joint and probably rest. But how do you rest your jaw? You really cannot. 

The position of your teeth is vital to how your jaw moves and as a consequence how the bones move within the TMJ.  When your teeth are out of alignment there is often associated TMJ malfunction.  Those with deep overbites are predisposed to TMJ problems because of the position this tooth arrangement puts the joint into. For more advanced cases of TMJ disorders, orthodontic treatment is often very effective at providing a permanent solution to the pain. 

            Most people with TMJ disorders complain of chronic headaches such as migraines and as a result they seek treatment from a physician such as a family practitioner or pain management specialist.  Taking over the counter pain medication such as ibuprofen can be effective in temporarily reducing inflammation in the joint, but narcotic pain medications contribute nothing to improving the condition. Strong pain medications such as opioids only mask the problem, while at the same time increasing your risk of addiction.

            If you have headaches or jaw popping see a dentist who regularly treats TMJ disorders.  Life does not have to be miserable because of chronic pain, for most TMD disorders, relief is available.